Chance the Rapper brought the crowd to their feet with a powerful and passionate acceptance speech after winning the BET Humanitarian Award Sunday night.
The 24-year-old Chicago rapper, who made national headlines after donating his own money to struggling Chicago Public Schools, took his shining moment to call for justice.
“I didn’t prepare a speech because I really wanted to try and see what happened when I got up here and try and speak from the heart,” Chance told the audience as he stepped up on stage.
He went on to say that, being so young, it feels early to be receiving an award of such magnitude, but he doesn’t take it lightly.
“I had plans originally to try and tell the world and everybody watching how to make it a better place,” he said before criticizing Chicago Public Schools’ finances, calling for lesser sentences for non-violent drug offenses, and asking for justice in police-involved shootings.
Still, he went on to say that he must first focus on himself before he can focus on the world. He talked about becoming a better father to his daughter and a better cousin to his relatives.
“Being 24 and getting something like this it doesn’t feel deserved yet, but like I said, my God is putting the pressure on me so I can become who I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I’m a good man and I’m going to become a better man.”
Chance, whose real name is Chancellor Bennett, is the youngest person to receive the prestigious award so far. Previous recipients include Muhammed Ali, Alicia Keys, Dwyane Wade, Al Sharpton, John Legend Jesse Williams and several others.
The achievement didn’t go unnoticed.
"Chance is showing our young people that they matter, that they have something inside of them that is worthy of being expressed, and they have so much to contribute to their community and our country,” former first lady Michelle Obama said in a surprise videotaped message. "Because of you, countless young people will grow up believing in themselves."
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Kendrick Lamar, who surprised the audience when he performed with Future and won best male hip hop artist, also gave a shout-out to fellow nominee Chance the Rapper. Chance also won best new artist and best collaboration.